It’s Fristmas Time… There’s EVERY need to be afraid.
As an agnostic fence-sitter, the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ has long lost its potently pious effect on ma soul. But at some point during my hedonistic teenage years, while Faith slipped out the back door unnoticed, Distraction, in the form of pastry miniatures, fortified wine and the new pink ghds quickly slipped inside, high-fiving Faith on the way. And has kept the foot-tapping, flag waving, glitter spraying jig up for far too long.
Now that I am a fully-fledged-adult, however, living the life I always dreamed of, sharing a glass cage with smiley happy people tapping their ditties into their desks, the Christmas spirit has yet to break through the walls of my increasingly hardened heart. And it’s 16th December ffs.
I work next to Oxford Circus. And a circus it most certainly is. A glitzy, rainbowed, all singing all dancing display of the worst of western consumerism.
So it is, to me, beginning to feel increasingly like Fristmas. (Fristmas, for the (blissfully, trust me) ignorant amongst you, is a predominantly uni-days tradition which allows student households the opportunity to drink and eat more than they already do, with the added bonus of not having to see each other again for four whole weeks. Oh yeah, and it is an amalgamation of the words ‘Fake’ and ‘Christmas’. As if Christmas isn’t fake enough. Bring on threadworms of Tesco tinsel, draped over a pre-pubescent Christmas tree, straddled by a hand-made cardboard angel with breasts the size of Yorkshire puddings.)
I am no longer a student and thus have survived on one measly Christmas dinner per annum for the past three years. Pitiful, I know. And without four weeks off, to attend second-cousins school nativities, to join mum on the never-ending-but-when-it-does-it-ends-in-tears big Christmas food shop, and, of course, without the regretfully-gluttonous Fristmas of uni-years, the Christmas spirit (WHATEVER THAT IS) isn’t likely to be felt until, well, quite possibly Christmas morn, given the expected delays at Waterloo.
Thus, I have begun to question, what this time of year means, to me. I think most brain-owning humans have pondered ‘the meaning of…’ at least once in their lives and for whatever reason, possibly one I’m soon to find out, have promptly taken the elevator straight back up to the seventh floor and shut themselves back inside their glass box, to get screwed over by Amazon Prime until they pluck up the courage to arm themselves with shopping bags and plough through Waterloo in time to hop on-board stress-express homebound. Cos when you stick to the rules, things make sense. Or at least more sense than a Christmas without presents.
I am a normal human female and of course would love my rents to buy me a laptop that doesn’t need shaking every ten minutes to keep working, I’d positively fit with glee if my bf surprised me with tickets to Paris he’s spent weeks checking Eurostar for to find the deal that won’t require a small loan, and obvs I’d want my home friends to search high and low to find gifts that vaguely point to a decade old in-joke that will, convolutedly, reassure me that we are as close now as we were back then.
Reading this back (because yes, you might’ve guessed, I don’t write with a plan…) I think the meaning of Christmas might actually be, to me anyway, something to do with Reassurance. We are addicted to reassurance that we are loved enough to warrant the money and effort of another human being. When that person who always gave you a gift, no longer does, then that friggin’ means something, doesn’t it? But it shouldn’t. Maybe the reason they haven’t remembered you is cos we’re spending so much time and energy standing in shop queues buying bath bombs (cos that’s a generic, inoffensive gift that Paula (who I haven’t had time to see this year, so don’t really know what she digs anymore) will like) that we forget to actually spend the most important currency, TIME, with these so called loved ones.
If missing out on presents means mum can spend time playing scrabble without a post-Primark eye twitch then that is FINE BY ME. So this year I asked my family not to buy me presents but, if they insisted on parting with money to reassure me of their love could they instead give the money they were going to spend to a charity of their choice. I can tell they have found this difficult. The eye-twitching has actually increased.
Perhaps this will be the saddest Christmas I’ve ever had and everyone will say ‘told you so’ as I weep into my empty stocking. But on the flip side, maybe I’ll realise reassurance doesn’t come in the form of another bath bomb.